Friday, August 26, 2016

Plagiarism: words yes, ideas no

There's a discussion over at the Mere Fidelity podcast about Plagiarism in the wake of the Peter T. O'Brien commentary controversy. Early in the discussion, before it goes off into a tangent about copyright, Justin Taylor helpfully distinguishes between the copying of ideas and the plagiarism of content. Poor O'Brien was caught accidentally doing the latter, reproducing multiple phrases in his Philippians commentary without properly crediting FF Bruce.

The basic rule of scholarship from high-school essays to academic publishing, is to footnote your quotes. What's more difficult is the reproduction of ideas, especially in Philosophy and Christianity. If someone else has a helpful way of expressing an idea, you should credit them. However while it benefits everyone, you, your interlocutors and your readers, to note the provenance of an idea, no one person owns an idea.

[Old Xerox poster from the Smithsonian.] 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Free Advice for Christian organisations

This free advice is about using the resources God has blessed you with well. God gives different amounts of resources to his people and will hold us all proportionally accountable (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • Purpose
    • Clearly articulate your purpose
    • Do your purpose well, let that be your reputation 
    • Don't compromise, because everything is corruptible 
  • Communication
    • If your purpose is worthwhile, people will want to share it, so give them the resources to do that: e.g. graphics, documents, footage etc
    • Aesthetics are like behaviour, they communicate non-verbally
    • Depth is important, because the medium is the message, so don't be superficial, offer interesting complexity and scholarly resources 
  • Transparency
    • Be really honest and clear about money and governance
    • Ethics matter
    • It's OK to be flexible, missions change, but update your purpose! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Barassi Line

I prefer a few of the cultural aspects of sport, for example the film Moneyball (2011), or the fact that the Greenbay Packers are locally owned by their supporters, or observing the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong than actually watching or following any of the sportsball itself. "Did you see that ludicrous display last night!" By the way because I'm a minister seeking to be like 'a gentile to the gentiles', I've adopted an AFL team and even own their offical scarf to wear when they win, which isn't very often. But here's a fascinating sport and geography related phenomenon: 'the Barassi Line'. A cultural boundary running across Western NSW separating the rugby playing north from the AFL playing south. Here in Horsham the whole town turns out to watch football & netball, while Rugby is seen as an exotic hobby, the local rugby league stretches across all of the Wimmera and into South Australia as far as Mount Gambier. But by the time you reach Wagga to the north-east of us, both codes via for attention.

Another interesting boundary is the range of Lutheran settlement in Western Victoria. Every small town in the Wimmera and southern Malle has a Lutheran congregation (e.g Natimuk, Kaniva, Edenhope, Murtoa etc) , but by Ararat and the beginning of gold country they've dried up. Speaking of boundaries, Horsham sits on the border of wheat and sheep, probably more of a climate and landscape boundary than a cultural one, with sheep to the south and wheat to the north. Borders are fascinating both because of what's used to define them but also because of the the ambiguity of the territory right at the edge of the two regions.